WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. (AP) -- Although divers have battled lightning, rubble and fatigue to recover victims of a deadly bridge collapse, their hardest fight may be against hopelessness.
With the aid of sonar and a large crane, recovery crews have been able to pull the bodies of 13 people, as well as 10 vehicles, from the murky Arkansas River. The agonizing search was to resume Wednesday morning.
"We're having a beneficial effect, but at the same time, there's a feeling of helplessness that we're not doing all we can be doing, just because of the obstacles and treacherous conditions," said Dennis Splawn, a diver with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
An unknown number of people are still missing after an out-of-control barge hit the Interstate 40 bridge on Sunday and knocked out a 500-foot section of highway, sending about a dozen vehicles plunging 62 feet into the river.
The bodies of seven women and six men have been recovered from the water, said highway patrol Lt. Chris West.
Among the dead were Misty Johnson, 28, and James Johnson, 30, of Lavaca, Ark., a couple said to be en route to Tulsa with their 3-year-old daughter, Shay Nicole.
"We do believe we have very good, reliable information that the child was traveling with them," Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management, said Tuesday evening.
Divers also managed to pull up the body of Andrew Clements, 35, an Army captain who was driving across the country to begin a new chapter in his life.
Clements picked up his German shepherd in California and headed east to Alexandria, Va., where he and his wife were set to close a deal on a new two-story house. By Sunday morning, he was crossing the I-40 bridge when the barge hit.
"What were the odds of something like that happening?" asked Ronald Clements, his father. His son left behind three children, including an 8-week-old.
Dental records eventually confirmed Andrew Clements' identity, but photos of the crushed car had already given it away: There was a dog cage in the back seat.
Other victims included Gail Shanahan, 49, who was returning to Texas with another horse trainer, Maggie Green, when their truck and a trailer hauling four horses plunged off the bridge. Searchers have pulled three horses out of the river.
Norman police Detective Wayne Martin and his wife, Susan, were two more victims. They were heading to Arkansas for a family reunion Sunday morning, but never arrived.
"We are pretty well resolved to the facts," said Norman police Lt. Glenn Dobry. "It's extremely tough."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.